Make us your home page

'Tenor' in Tarpon Springs proves opera is a laughing matter

TARPON SPRINGS — It's 1934 and a huge night for the Cleveland Grand Opera Company.

The world famous Tito Merelli — the greatest tenor of his time — is set to sing the lead in Verdi's opera Otello. The opera company's general manager, Saunders, is sure this will put the company on the operatic map, but Tito is nowhere to be found.

Laughter, however, is all over the place as Lend Me a Tenor, a Tony Award-winning comedy by Ken Ludwig, takes the stage at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center.

The curtain rises at 8 p.m. Friday, and performances continue this weekend and next at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, 324 Pine St. Tickets are $20, or $17 for members and students.

Director Rick Hite said audiences should be prepared to laugh "until their stomachs hurt."

"I picked this show because it's the funniest comedy I've ever seen," said Hite, a language arts teacher at Pinellas Park Middle School. "The dialogue is just hysterical."

Take this crisp exchange between a harried Saunders (played by Rick Bronson) and his jumpy, brown-nosing assistant, Max (Keith Seger). As they rush around preparing for Tito's arrival, they finish each other's sentences at a dizzying pace.

Saunders: "All right, Max, this is it. ... You will give him whatever he wants except ...''

Max: "... liquor and women.''

Saunders: "At the performance you will lead a spontaneous ..."

Max: "... standing ovation.''

Saunders: "And return him to the reception keeping him ..."

Max: "... sober.''

Saunders: "With his hands ...

Max: "... to himself ...''

Saunders: "... at which point he can ...'

Max: "... drop dead ...''

Saunders: "... for all we care.''

Tito (Tom Bronson) does finally arrive, but he's drunk. And a few mishaps later, he does drop dead (or at least that's what Max and Saunders think) but it's before the performance.

Of course, the show must go on, so Saunders begs Max to impersonate the opera star, who will be in blackface anyway.

Max is petrified at the thought. After all, he has only hummed the opera in the bathtub.

Seger said he's enjoying his leading role as Max, particularly the metamorphosis his character undergoes during the two-hour play.

"At first he's very nervous, then he becomes an impostor living his dream, and by the end of the play, he has gained self-confidence," Seger said. "It works out well for me because I am always nervous at the beginning of every play and by the end I can relax."

The farce, a fun and outrageous romp full of slamming doors, mistaken identities, double entendres and high jinks, opened on Broadway in 1989. It received nine Tony nominations, winning two, and enjoyed a Broadway revival in 2010.

The cast of eight also features Drew Lundquist as a wisecracking bellhop; Michelle Procida as Saunders' daughter Maggie; and Beth Phillips as Tito's jealous wife, Maria. Georgia Kosloski plays Julia, "the Chrysler Building,'' and Susi Dachs performs as the seductive soprano Diana.

Tenor is not only known for its rib-tickling lines but its unusual curtain call.

Not wanting to spoil the ending for his audiences, Hite would only say, "If they miss the show, they can come to the curtain call and see the whole thing."

Have a Diversions idea for North Pinellas? Contact Terri Bryce Reeves at

>>if you go

Lend Me a Tenor

Where: Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, 324 Pine St.

When: Friday to Sunday and May 3-5. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $20; $17 members and students.

Special: Free opening night wine reception for ticket holders at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Artists' Faire Gallery, 111 E Tarpon Ave. It's hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.

'Tenor' in Tarpon Springs proves opera is a laughing matter 04/23/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 12:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 28


    The Art of the Brick: An elaborate display of more than 100 pieces of Lego artwork including the life sized sculpture of a man ripping open his chest, a 20-foot-long T-Rex skeleton, a giant skull and replicas of famous works including Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night and Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona …

    This artwork called "Swimmer" by artist Nathan Sawaya is part of The Art of the Brick exhibition coming to Tampa June 23- Sept. 4. It will be open for free.
  2. Review: Dan Auerbach, Benjamin Booker plumb the past for inspiration on new albums

    Music & Concerts

    It didn't take Benjamin Booker long to get lumped in with the greats. The Tampa-raised singer-songwriter's 2014 self-titled blues-punk debut brought widespread acclaim, not to mention an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, a tour with Jack White and sessions with Mavis Staples.

    The cover of Benjamin Booker's new album "Witness." Credit: ATO Records
  3. Fourth of July in Tampa Bay: parades, hot dog parties, concerts and more things to do


    Looking for things to do on the Fourth of July in Tampa Bay? There is no shortage of patriotic events, from the Hot Dog Party concerts and eating contest in Tampa, to the parades in Land O' Lakes and Safety Harbor, to the swinging dance party at St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine arts, there's an abundance of things to do …

    The annual Independence Day parade in Brandon kicks off at 10 a.m. on July 4 at 101 E Lumsden Road. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times (2015)]
  4. Too hot to bake? Grill your desserts this summer


    It's dinnertime in the heat of the summer. The last thing you want to do is turn on the oven.

    With a good grill, you can get a nice brown top on peach cobbler biscuits.
  5. Where to see Fourth of July fireworks across Tampa Bay


    Looking for Independence Day fireworks shows in the Tampa Bay area? There are plenty of options, including the massive shows in Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and New Port Richey, as well as smaller shows across Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Sarasota counties.

    Fireworks explode with color over the Nature Coast Freedom Festival in Hernando County. There will be a variety of fireworks displays across the Tampa Bay area for the Fourth of July in 2017. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2009)]